Don’t Forget to Breathe

So, for the past week every time I take a study break and hit up ye olde social media, I see a lot of amusing posts from my fellow struggling comrades that read something along the lines of, “To Do Tonight: 1. Cry, 2. Only Cry Once.” What a valiant goal! Because it’s true.

There are several times throughout the semester that the whole aura of the campus changes. All of a sudden you see more students in sweats with messy hair and slightly bloodshot eyes. When asked how they’re doing the common reply is, “Oh, you know!” included with a sad, slightly crazed smile. College has its ups and downs and when the realization hits that we only have two weeks of classes left before finals, the campus becomes somewhat of a survival show. The one thing people will not be able to prepare you for in college is stress.

Yes, you can read articles and books and have your own self-care regiment that worked for you in high school. But, nothing prepares you for this. All I can promise you is that you are going to figure it out. As a senior, I found it incredibly hilarious to see the freshmen begin to freak out about finals a few days ago. Then, remembering back to what my first set of finals was like as a freshman, my smile drops and I just want to pick them all up and give them a hug and tell them that eventually, it’s all going to be OK. Because it does get better. The stress will never fully go away, but through trial and error you will figure out how you best handle it. For example, as a senior, if I am given an assignment of a five-page paper, I know approximately how long it will take me in hours, how I need to research, and how I need to outline it to write fluidly and efficiently. It may have taken me six semesters to figure out, but I finally did.

You got this. There might be tears, there might be coffee, there might be late night pizza, and there might be naps in the library, but in the end you are going to make it home for the holidays in one piece! Among the numerous online articles about things you can do to manage your stress as a college student here is my advice: S.T.O.P.

S – Stop

T – Take 3 deep breaths

O – Observe/Plan

P – Proceed

So, my fellow and future Captains, don’t forget to breathe! May the odds be ever in your favor. The sun will come out tomorrow and all that jazz. We got this! Finals ain’t got nothing on us!

I Miss My Mom

Yeah, I said it.

It’s about that time of year again. Thanksgiving is coming up. Radio stations are already playing Christmas music. You realize that there are only three more weeks of classes. This all makes you think about one thing: home. I will be the one to come forward and say that as a college kid you will experience being homesick many times during your college career.

As a freshman, you get homesick because you crave what you know. Everything at college is new and different. You find few to no familiar faces and all of a sudden all the responsibility of success is on you. You miss your mom, your dad, your siblings, your pets, your house, your friends, your bed, your couch and the life you have lived for so long. As a freshman, you get homesick because you are trying to find your place on campus.

As a sophomore, you get homesick because you are left to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. Freshman year seems like all fun and games. Sophomore year starts to get real. You have to choose a major. You find your niche on campus through joining different organizations. You find the friends you’ll have for life. As a sophomore, you get homesick because you want to run away from the truth that you are growing up and have to make life choices.

As a junior, you get homesick ’cause you almost feel like an adult. You’re finally an upperclassman and you feel like you have it going on. The whole college thing is going pretty well for you and you have made it this far. You find yourself going to career fairs, applying for internships and honing in on possible career tracks for your future. It is all too real. As a junior, you get homesick because you aren’t ready to be an adult and still want mom to cut your sandwich crusts off to prove you’re still just a kid.

As a senior, you get homesick because you have no idea where home is actually going to be. All of a sudden you are there. You’re splashing your big toe in the pool of adulthood and waiting for the month of May to push you in. You are applying for big-kid jobs and negotiating salaries. Freshmen stare in awe at you; you seem to know everything. Yet, you still have paralyzing moments of reality every other day when you realize the next year will be totally different. As a senior, you get homesick because you don’t know the next time you’re going to go home.

But through these moments in your college career, something amazing happens. As much as you miss everything about being home, Christopher Newport becomes your home. I remember my freshman year I was home for Thanksgiving break and my mom asked me when I was going back to school and I said, “Oh, I’m going home on Sunday night.” I had said it subconsciously, I had called CNU home. That’s what makes this place so special. I have not heard any other college kid I know call their school home; it’s always just school. But here, we’re more than just a school: we’re a community, a family, a home. This is a home that you will have for the rest of your life.


10 Ways to Turn Your Rainy Day Around

Grab your boots, guys and gals! ‘Tis the season! Welcome to Newport News, the land of unpredictable weather. As the months attempt to grow colder, the leaves begin to change color, and your motivation falters slightly, you can expect to see one sure thing: rain. But don’t let that deter you! Here at Christopher Newport we have many ways to take our rainy days and use them to the best of our abilities!

Here are 10 ways to turn your rainy day around:

  1. Actually do all the homework you have been postponing! Take the opportunity on a rainy day to park yourself in a library cubicle and crank out all that work you have been putting off! Pros: less stress, more freedom on sunny days, Einstein’s bagel sandwiches.
  2. Go puddle jumping! Who cares that you’re in college, five-year-olds have got it right on this one! Grab your rain boots and enjoy the endless possibilities of puddles across campus! Grab some friends and have a splash competition! Pros: laughter, smiles, childhood nostalgia
  3. Take the opportunity to visit the Mariners’ Museum and/or the Virginia Living Museum! We have two absolutely amazing museums right by campus, so why not take the afternoon and explore them! Pros: stay dry, learn cool things, fun date activity
  4. Binge watch Netflix! As college kids we are not going to lie and say that this isn’t a likely scenario! If you are comfortable with where you are in your school work give yourself a few hours to watch numerous episodes of the show you have been dying to see! Pros: pillows, blankets, general coziness
  5. Catch up on some sleep! Along with watching some Netflix maybe you need to catch a few Z’s! Rainy day naps are the best! The room is darker, the soft pitter patter will put you right to sleep, and you can enjoy curling up in a ball and forgetting the rest of the world exists! Pros: general health, increased functionality, cuddles with all the pillows
  6. Try out a new crock pot recipe! For those of you that don’t know, every college kid needs to invest in a crock pot at some point in their life! It cooks delicious things all by itself! Who doesn’t love some homemade chili on a cold rainy day? Pros: deliciousness, chef skills, impress your friends
  7. Pick up a new hobby! Done with school work? Nothing to do on a rainy day? Learn how to knit! Or learn how to be crafty! (I’m obviously not) You’ll have all your Christmas presents done in no time! Pros: pretty results, gifts for days, sense of accomplishment
  8. Clean your room! Find yourself staring at the wall wondering what to do? Take some time out of your rainy day to clean your room! This means everything! Laundry, bed sheets, vacuuming, shower, toilet, etc! Now you have a clean living area! Pros: now you can invite people over, no more worries, fresh lemon scent
  9. Discover a new work out! Rainy day? Hit the gym! Meet a new gym buddy! If you’re crazy like me, go running in the rain! It makes you feel intense! Pros: get swole, new gym friends, self-confidence
  10. Take the time to actually spend time with friends! After a long rainy day give yourself the chance to just chill with your friends! Order some pizza, watch a movie, solve the problems of the world and just chill! Often we get so busy with our schedules that we don’t give ourselves the chance to get to know our friends better. Use a rainy day to do just that! Pros: friendship, happiness, giggles


How to Accept Feeling Naive

There is a phenomenon here called the CNU “bubble.” This bubble is our campus, our oasis in the Hampton Roads area. Within this bubble, we feel safe, secure and recognized. Christopher Newport does such an incredible job at providing us with an environment in which we can challenge, explore and create new experiences without threat of judgment.

Every year CNU presents you with a new challenge and in my senior year, I have found my challenge to be reality. I mean this quite literally – as in the real world of reality. I recently had the most incredible opportunity to attend the International Leadership Association conference in Barcelona to represent Christopher Newport in an undergraduate case-study competition. It was possibly one of the most amazing and influential things I have done in my life so far. Arriving in Barcelona I felt like I was on top of the world. Walking into the conference opening ceremony all I could think was, “Oh yeahhhh, let’s do this!”

My confidence was shot within the first 20 minutes and I was left feeling extremely naive. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel prepared and I began to think that the reason was because of the CNU bubble. For some reason my initial instinct was to blame CNU, not myself of course, but my school, for sending me out into the world unprepared to face reality. Then I realized how stupid that sounded. The bubble didn’t protect or shield me from things; it gave me a safe environment in which I had learned how to accept feeling uncomfortable and how to work through it. Now, frankly, I was speaking with people who held PhDs, so I give myself some credit for being able to keep up with them in conversation. But when I couldn’t, I kept asking questions with an eagerness to learn more. At the end of the conference, I was approached by several people who commented that they were impressed by the fact that I was comfortable, saying, “You know, I don’t know much about that, could you tell me more?” Simply my curiosity, humility, and ability to listen had impressed people.

So with this being said, you will come into your freshman year at Christopher Newport thinking you know everything. You don’t. I’m a senior and I still don’t know everything! I’m pretty sure our parents don’t even know everything (but don’t tell them I said that). But when that feeling of naivety starts to hit you and you feel uncomfortable, don’t run away from it – embrace it, and you will be amazed at how much you can learn. I can confidently say that there’s no place like CNU to provide an environment in which to learn this amazing lifelong skill.